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What Peels Are Safe for African-American Skin?

I have a yellow/tan complexion (similar to Beyonce's), and I'd like to find out what peels are safe for me. I've searched for a long time for this answer and can't find the true answer (for example, some sites say TCA can be used, then some sites say TCA is not for non-white skin). Thank you for your answers!

Doctor Answers (10)

TCA can be risky for African-American skin.


I would start with a salicylic acid peel (20%) or Jessner's peel. These solutions tend to be less problematic for African-American skin. TCA peels in ethnic skin should be used with caution and I would not go higher than 10% TCA. If I was going to use TCA on African-American skin, I would probably do a small test spot and follow up in 1 month to ensure that it did not cause a pigmentary problem.

San Diego Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

The depth of the peel should be matched to the depth of the problem you are trying to correct


The type of peel appropriate for you depends upon what condition you are trying to improve. For a peel to work you need to match the depth of the peel to the depth of the problem. It is true that in darkly pigmented skin caution must be exercised with chemical peeling. A good initial peel to try is a Jessner's peel. This is an intra-epithelial peel. It would correct texture problems and make the skin smoother. You may also consider a treatment like microdermbrasion. Exercise caution and start slowly would be my best advice.

Jeffrey Zwiren, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 8 reviews

Benefits of Chemical Peels


Almost everyone can benefit from chemical peels.  You are no exception.  The most important thing to do is to find a dermatologist who has extensive experience with chemical peels so that they know how best to treat your skin.  I am from Miami originally and I can tell you there are a large number of very well-trained dermatologists there.  Please avoid the med-spas and non-dermatologist/plastic surgeon providers!

Victoria W. Serralta, MD
Arlington Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

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Peels for African American Skin


The issue with darker skin is not whether you can or cannot have a peel; the issue is how aggressive that peel is. That is, the more aggressive the peel the more likely you will have post-treatment hyperpigmentation. For example, a high strength TCA peel would not be for you, but a very low strength TCA peel or even a light glycolic peel could be used on your skin.

David Goldberg, MD
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Safe Peels


Typically, fair skinned patients are better suited to be treated for deeper chemical peels. However, this is not a definite “no” to your question.   Darker skin types can benefit safely from superficial chemical peels to treat acne, dullness and mild pigment issues.  Newer deeper chemical peels like the Dermaceutic Spot Peel are designed for darker skin types to avoid the possibility of uneven skin pigmentation.  The key is to find an experienced, caring medical practice with patients of all skin types.


Yael Halaas, MD
Manhattan Facial Plastic Surgeon
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Peels Are Safe for African-American Skin


A consultation with your provider would be the first start.  For very
dark skin a different peel may be needed versus a lighter shade.  A
Jesners peel or salicylic acid may be a better choice than a TCA peel.
With chemical peels its best to do a series of treatments.


Edward E. Dickerson, IV, MD
Fayetteville Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 48 reviews

Palomar Artisan Laser for Skin of Color


It takes care, expertise and experience to achieve outstanding results with the resurfacing of skin of color. There are a variety of techniques that are effective in the treatment of dark skin. A mainstay is a good daily skincare regimen. This may include glycolic acids, topical antioxidants and hydroquinone, a lightening cream. This foundation of daily skin care prepares the skin for resurfacing techniques and assures results that are free of complications such as blotchiness of the skin. Once the skin is properly pre-conditioned, certain TCA peel solutions are successful and we have found that our patients have been very pleased with the Artisan laser, a technologically more precise laser method that we prefer over peeling techniques. 

Ross A. Clevens, MD
Melbourne Facial Plastic Surgeon
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Chemical peels safe for African American skin


There are a number of types of peels that can be performed safely and with excellent results on brown skin. The type of peel you get will depend on your problem, More importantly have your peel done by a licensed professional who is experienced doing chemical peels on brown skin. Steer clear of full phenol peels. Only have a board certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon do a TCA peel on you.

Dina D. Strachan, MD
New York Dermatologist
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What chemical to use on black skin


There is no good chemical or treatment to use on dark skin.  The problem is that anything that can affect the skin can affect the melanocytes that give color to the skin.  Before undergoing any treatment, the skin should be tested in an inconspicuous place to see the effect the treatment.  This is true with all chemicals as well as lasers.

Gary H. Manchester, MD (retired)
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
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Peels for African-American skin


A more important question for you will be: where should I go to get my peel? Certain peels are safe for African-American skin and are indeed beneficial. These peels can also be dangerous and lead to pigment problems. It would be extremely important for you not to cut corners, make sure you have them done by an experienced medical provider - a facial plastic surgeon, dermatologist or a plastic surgeon.

Frequently, the doctor will have a nurse do the peel, but make sure you actually discuss these issues with the doctor before the peel. They will have to specifically address the issue of sun exposure and tanning before and after the peel as well.

Stella Desyatnikova, MD
Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 16 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.